Too much bearding?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by d.magnitude, Aug 28, 2011.

  1. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    I've got a few hives that have had a pretty significant number of bees hanging out on the front of the hive lately. I know that's typical behavior for a strong hive in hot weather, but I've noticed it on cooler (75F) evenings as well. There will be some bees hanging a bit off the landing board, but also many bees practically covering the front of 2 deeps.

    So, my question is: Does that sound normal? I can check the available space inside, but I read recently that at this time of year they may be expected to start backfilling with honey to prepare for winter anyway (meaning I should expect it to be crowded?). If it were earlier in the season, I'd give them another super to build into, but I don't have additional drawn comb and I'm afraid it's getting late to be asking them to draw much foundation.

    Thanks, Dan
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Check it anyway. Both boxes on every hive. If they don't have empty space, add a box. You still have the fall flow to go, so they just may draw it out. It wouldn't hurt to set it on the bottom board and put the two full deeps on top. Then it won't bother them if they don't need it, but will have it if they do. It will also serve as a clustering area inside the hive.
     

  3. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    The idea of putting foundation on the bottom of the hive would never have crossed my mind. Seems like they'd never draw it down there, but as you said at least it could serve as a clustering area.

    If I get to it soon enough (unfortunately they're not in my backyard), I may still put the box on top and feed a bit to encourage them to draw it out. There is still a fall flow (hopefully), and I've been seeing the Goldenrod coming on full-force, so I wouldn't be shocked if they drew it still.

    Thanks for the advice,
    Dan
     
  4. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    you might also consider adding one or two drawn frames to the new super when you add it on top. I typically do this anyway since I always reduce 10 frames to 9. this kind of baits them up.

    a couple of questions... 1) how many frames do you have/box (1 less per box definitely increase air circulation) and 2) do you have a top entrance?
     
  5. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Thanks Tec,
    1) I run 10 frames/box now (hive bodies and honey supers, as I'm still working on getting a supply of those frames drawn)*
    2) Yes I do have a top entrance (notch cut in the rim of the inner cover). I had used the "Tec stick" before for increased ventilation, but payed the price with increased robbing. I know it probably doesn't make for the best airflow, but my hives have to make do with the notch for now.

    I don't have much drawn comb hanging around to use, but I do have one hive with a med super full of honey still above the double deeps. Perhaps I will take those frames and split them up among the hives that I'm going to "super up" with more foundation.

    -Dan

    *as some of my hives are all-mediums, if I go with 9-frame honey supers in the future, I will likely run my medium brood chambers the same way.

    {ps- I'm a fan of calling everything a "box". It makes me sound a little less sophisticated of a beekeeper, but the terms "brood chamber", "hive body", and "super" get confusing when folks are using all kind of combinations of sizes}
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a Dan snip..
    *as some of my hives are all-mediums, if I go with 9-frame honey supers in the future, I will likely run my medium brood chambers the same way.

    {ps- I'm a fan of calling everything a "box". It makes me sound a little less sophisticated of a beekeeper, but the terms "brood chamber", "hive body", and "super" get confusing when folks are using all kind of combinations of sizes}

    tecumseh:
    most of my tops (migratory type with a rim) have notched entrance and that generally is all that is necessary.

    when I am drawing new comb I have 10 in the box. once drawn I run 9 frames from the bottom to the top of the stack no matter whether it is a brood box or for surplus honey. nothing scientific mind you, but I do think I have less frame melt downs (a real hazard here) in boxes with 9 frames vs 10.

    sometimes the distinction of size (deep, mediums or shallow) can be important... but most times box works just fine with me. I guess I will have to get comfortable with being less sophisticated also.

    IMHO...we are kind of like family here so as long as we communicate clearly exactness of language is really not absolutely required.
     
  7. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Oh yes, I do mean "deep, medium, or shallow" is still important information; just one guy's "brood chamber" might be another guy's "medium super". I try to bear that in mind when reading someone else's description, and when communicating I like to break it down as plainly as possible.

    Back on topic... 9 frames in a 10-frame brood chamber makes sense enough to me, as long as bee space isn't violated and burr comb starts up. Does that tend to be a problem when first shifing drawn frames from a 10- to 9-spacing?

    I hope to inspect and "super up" if neccesary tomorrow. I'll let ya'll know.
    -Dan
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    well the bee space is terrible violated and you will on occasion see two things happen (which to me are relatively minor)... 1) you may see a minor amount of bridge comb towards the bottom of the frames and 2) on a good early flow the top of the frames will sometimes get quite fat. mind you neither of these happens quickly nor represent a serious problem. the primary advantage in running 9 frames is it make inspection so much easier... that is the center frame of each box can be removed with out moving much else and without rolling a lot of bees in the process. so inspection typically becomes... you pull one frame, set this back into it's place and you are done.
     
  9. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Quick update:
    I went this evening and put additional supers on two of my hives that seemed crowded. I wish I could say I did a thorough inspection, but when I got into the hive all I could see was a mass of bees. I had to re-smoke them every time a pulled a frame, or I was just reaching into a carpet of bees. I deemed that crowded enough, and put on a medium super with 7 frames foundation and 3 frames honey (swiped from another hive that could use the extra space anyway). Oh, and I fed them 1:1 for good measure. I'm looking forward to more drawn comb next year.
    {Additional lesson learned: It's hardly worth starting an inspection at 6:30pm. Too many bees in the hive, and my gentle little buddies aren't so gentle anymore}

    I can certainly appreciate having 9 frames in a 10-frame box. Every frame I replaced in the brood nest just had to slowly sink back into place (you know what I mean). I can't see pulling frames out now to make room though, so it'll have to wait till spring when they're unoccupied.

    Since we're on the subject of efficiency, at 9 hives it's starting to feel like I can't afford to be as meticulous in my inspections anymore. How do you commercial guys (even small-scale) manage to keep tabs on your hives, catch swarm cells, etc..?

    -Dan
     
  10. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Dan writes:
    How do you commercial guys (even small-scale) manage to keep tabs on your hives, catch swarm cells, etc..?

    tecumseh:
    although officially a side liner the way one manages is 1) hefting the box and looking at one frame is often times marked down as a total inspection... you get to the point where inspecting every frame doesn't really provide that much more useful information, 2) at some point you get to the place where simply opening the box instantly translate into some message as to the hives health, 3) you consul yourself that bees will swarm and you will miss most of those since you can not be in a dozen different places at once, and 4) at the peak of the season sometimes the days just get very long.
     
  11. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Sounds about like I figured. It still sounds like fun, though.

    I can at least tell if a box feels like it is full of honey, and don't usualy bother looking in there.

    -Dan

    ps- I must say again how much I appreciate this forum. You guys have (collectively) been a great mentor.
     
  12. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Can't claim to have managed a commercial-sized apiary but the circulars sent to all registered beeks in Israel recommend "balancing" the size of the hives to keep things simpler. By transferring from the strong hives and strengthening the weaker ones, you attain a situation where you pretty much do the same thing to all hives at the same time--adding frames for building or built supers for increasing storage capacity, etc. This, of course makes handling the hives faster and easier.
     
  13. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    it is still fun d.magnitude. sometime in the heat you have to constantly remind yourself of just how much fun you are having. :yahoo:
     
  14. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Update (I hoped I was done with updates):

    I went to my other beeyard today to put a new super on another hive I thought might be crowded. Sure enough, I found a few swarm cells; still open, but definitely larvae inside. I guess I decided to take action a little too late

    I really wasn't expecting a swarm from a new hive started on foundation this year. This is even a hive I have stolen a few frames of brood from to help out another hive.

    I guess I'm going to go back this weekend to try to pull the old queen along with a few frames of bees to make an artificial swarm in a nuc box. I'll count on recombining that with the hive later in the fall. That's the best I know to do with a hive that's already making swarm preparations. Any other suggestions at this point?

    Thanks, Dan

    ps- like I said... fun!
     
  15. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    sounds like you have the planning down quite well. the only thing I might toss in the back of the pick up if I had one would be a swarm trap so that if I didn't find the queen I could at least hang the swarm trap in a tree and hope the swarm settled there....
     
  16. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Good call about the swarm trap (I may have to improvise one). Seems like I can only find the queen when I'm not looking for her.
     
  17. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    In Pennsylvania isn"t it too late in the season to start an new hive? Will it be strong enough to overwinter? My gut feeling would be to raise and get your new queen mated now but keep the one hive srong for the winter and do your splitting in the spring.
     
  18. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Yes, you're right; I do believe it is rather late in PA to be starting a new split. The only reason I would split would be to take out the old queen and simulate a swarm (rather than lose the inevitable swarm to a tree). This way I could recombine before winter to strengthen the original hive, after the swarming impulse has past (or rather been met).

    Of course this is all just how it should work. :D

    If there are other good techniques for saving bees from swarming after cells have been started, please let me know. I'm just muddling through this myself.

    -Dan
     
  19. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    the bees don't like it too much and it requires careful examination of ALL frames but----destroy all queen cells except one. Leave the biggest, best looking cell you can find and place an X on that frame so you can follow it in future checks (did the queen emerge properly?) Destroy your old queen. Without one, there can't be a swarm. If you are afraid of the chance that the virgin queen, once emerged, might not be successfully mated. cage your old queen so so she can't destroy the QC and keep her "locked up" in a corner of the hive till the new queen proves herself (starts laying). If all goes well with the new queen, then destroy the old one. If something fouls up with the new one, you can release the old. Either way, you have avoided a swarm, and hopefuflly you've got a new queen to start the next year.
     
  20. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    I guess that's actually pretty similar to my plan. The exception is that I was going to move the old queen (and some bees/brood) to a nuc, rather than just cage her in the hive. I would still plan on killing the older queen when doing the combine (assuming the new one was laying well), so as you said, I'd have a new queen in the hive for next spring. Same principle.

    Not sure which approach would be better. Your's certainly is, if one doesn't have spare equipment; all you need to carry with you is a queen cage (if that). But I like the idea of letting the old queen continue to lay in a nuc while the new queen gets up and running. That way, between the two hives, brood production never stops (maybe even overlaps).

    I don't understand the advantage of culling all but one queen cell (although I've heard that before). I always figured the bees can choose the best queen.

    -Dan